Polyphemus

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Polyphemus (Greek: Πολύφημος, Polyphēmos) is the gigantic one-eyed son of Poseidon and Thoosa in Greek mythology, one of the Cyclopes. His name means "everywhere famous".[1] Polyphemus plays a pivotal role in Homer's Odyssey.

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Polyphemus in Homer's Odyssey

In Homer's Odyssey (Book 9), Odysseus lands on the Island of the Cyclopes during his journey home from the Trojan War. He then takes twelve men and sets out to find supplies. The Greeks find and enter a large cave, which is the home of the great Cyclops Polyphemus. When Polyphemus returns home with his flocks and finds Odysseus and his men, he blocks the cave entrance with a great stone, trapping the remaining Greeks inside. The Cyclops then crushes and immediately devours two of his men for his meal. In the morning, he kills and eats two more. It is said that "throwing them on the ground, he knocked them dead like pups".[2]

The next morning, the cyclops kills and eats two more of Odysseus' men for his breakfast and exits the cave to graze his sheep. The desperate Odysseus devises a clever escape plan. He spots a massive unseasoned olivewood club that Polyphemus left behind the previous night and, with the help of his men, sharpens the narrow end to a fine point. He hardens the stake over a flame and hides it from sight. That night, Polyphemus returns from herding his flock of sheep. He sits down and kills two more of Odysseus' men. But, Odysseus gives to Polyphemus a strong, fragrant, un-watered wine given to him by Maron (son of Euanthes, priest of Apollo, and guardian of Ismarus). The wine makes Polyphemus drunk and unwary. When Polyphemus asks for Odysseus' name, promising him a guest-gift (see xenia (Greek)) if he answers, Odysseus tells him "οὔτις," (a short form of his actual name also translatable as "nobody"). Being drunk, Polyphemus thinks of it as a real name and says that he will eat "nobody" last and that this shall be his guest-gift—a vicious insult both to the tradition of hospitality and to Odysseus. With that, Polyphemus crashes to the floor and passes out. Odysseus, with the help of his men, lifts the flaming stake, charges forward and drives it into Polyphemus' eye, blinding him. Polyphemus yells for help from his fellow cyclopes that "nobody" has hurt him. The other cyclopes think Polyphemus is making a fool out of them or that it must be a matter with the gods, and they grumble and go away.

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